OTTAWA – To mark the opening of the 3rd National Conference on Tobacco or Health, a national health advocacy organization launched its campaign to end deception on cigarette packages. The Non-Smokers’ Rights Association kicked off its campaign with the publication of a letter to Health Minister Anne McLellan signed by about 70 professors of medicine, physicians and other health professionals challenging the minister to confront the tobacco epidemic aggressively (see three full page ads in The Hill Times, December 2, 2002). The association wants the tobacco epidemic to be confronted with the same urgency and intensity that the government would address other disease vectors that cause epidemics.
“For a start, we want the Minister to stop deception on tobacco packages, especially the low-tar cigarette consumer fraud,” said Garfield Mahood, the Association’s Executive Director. “The belief that ‘light’ and ‘mild’ cigarettes offer smokers reduced risks when compared to regular cigarettes has contributed to thousands of deaths and must be stopped. And the science of low-tar cigarettes suggests strongly that thousands of Canadians will die in the future unless this predatory practice is ended.”
National tobacco control interests have identified ‘light’ and ‘mild’ package deception as a priority. “We want Minister McLellan to follow through on the Notice of Intent to Regulate published by former Health Minister Allan Rock in December 2001,” said Francois Damphousse, head of the NSRA’s Quebec office. “The NOI was published after Mr. Rock ran a government advertising campaign which called ‘light’ and ‘mild’ packaging ‘deceptive and deadly’. When something is ‘deceptive’ and will cause large numbers of deaths, it would be irresponsible for any minister to ignore the practice,” said Mr. Damphousse.
To augment the campaign, the NSRA produced hard-hitting educational materials for distribution at the national conference (see attached). The Association challenged Minister McLellan not to evade her responsibility to act by suggesting that there are constitutional blocks to ending tobacco package deception. “There are no real legal blocks to stopping cigarette manufacturers from lying to their customers or to ending a scam that is killing people,” said Mahood.
For more information, contact:
François Damphousse, Cell: (514) 843-3250
Garfield Mahood, Cell: (416) 451-4285